day-dreaming in stolen words

children chase the shadows
of butterflies round a fountain
of stone; pink
blooms of crepe myrtle drift in
the august breeze to land

teasingly on skin, clothes, hair.
she finds it strange
how every man who has ever said
he loves her has also said
you deserve better;

hikes up her skirt to let
the late afternoon sun
kiss knees, thighs;
wonders. the moon
will be small and orange

tonight, a plaything
for summer’s dying gods.
who will kiss
her noon-shadow,
chase the butterfly wings down

the arch of her back, crown
her summer-glow
like a prom queen in pink crepe,
carry her home when
august has ended?

quarter past two


An owl-
eyed moon hangs
low like overripe fruit,
menacing the hot
horizon with her glowy
berth. Sweat
beads on the skin
of rooftops, perspiring
night-dreams of a dirt-nailed
city bent on creating
itself. The river drowses uneasily.
It smells
like jungle, and sex.

There is good mud here, and this
is no time for sleeping indoors.

Wild things
etch their names into wet
downtown cement, pile
old bricks into hillforts
from which they fling love
songs at one another
and think slyly of revolution.
Laughing, we
shake the moondust
out of wind-blown hair
and run to catch
the current,
kiss the river


the young moon is
strung up
above the river looking
like a pale imitation
of herself,
a soul-thief who
gypsy dances
her way though mid-
winter madrugadas seducing
me to desperation
with silken slipknots
between each
shadowed star.

You can find the original version in Spanish here. I’ve kept a few words that just didn’t give the same feel in English: madrugadas are early mornings— think partying-all-night-till-three-or-four-a.m. early. Lunera itself comes from “moon,” but, well… two WordReference sites, a handful of language forums, Google translator and a Guatemalan boyfriend all failed me in finding a direct translation. (Thanks anyway, Omar. ;)) The sense of it, though, for me, is making the moon “personal,” i.e. addressing it more as a person  and less as a far distant chunk of rock. And it definitely has something to do with a lullaby.  ~jsl